Who Knows “Uno”? The Many Sephardi Versions of a Passover Song

April 10 2017

The counting song “Eḥad mi yodei’a” (Who Knows One?), sung toward the very end of the seder, has been a standard element in Ashkenazi Haggadahs since at least the 16th century. It does not appear in most Sephardi versions of the Haggadah, but there are exceptions. In a few local traditions (like that of the Jews of Rhodes), it is generally sung in Ladino, with words somewhat different from the standard Hebrew text. Ty Alhadeff explains. (Audio recordings are included at the link below.)

[A]n exploration of . . . audio recordings of “Ken Supiense” [as the song is called in Ladino]—not only from Rhodes but also from other locales in the former Ottoman empire, including Salonica and present-day Turkey—reveals a wide variety . . . in the song’s wording and melody.

All versions of “Eḥad Mi Yodei’a,” whether in Hebrew or in Yiddish or Ladino translation, agree that, among the thirteen canonical references enumerated in the song, the number one always refer to one God and five always refers to the five books of the Torah. But there are some major variations among the Ladino versions. . . . Perhaps one of the most intriguing differences can be discerned in the varied references in the final, thirteenth, verse. The Rhodesli and Turkish versions do not refer to the thirteen attributes of God’s mercy as the original Hebrew text does, but rather to the renowned medieval sage Moses Maimonides’ thirteen principles of faith. . . .

The specific importance of these thirteen principles in the Sephardi tradition is reflected in the Ladino saying: está en sus treje (literally, “he is standing on his thirteen”), which refers to someone who is strong in his faith. According to [a] popular legend, . . . this expression dates back to the days of the Spanish Inquisition, when an inquisitor would ask of someone suspected of practicing Judaism in secret: “Está en su treje?” meaning: would a person abandon or stay steadfast in his belief in the thirteen principles of faith?

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Read more at Stroum Center for Jewish Studies

More about: Haggadah, Ladino, Passover, Religion & Holidays, Rhodes, Sephardim

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism